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Crossbows Gear & Accessories Hunting

A Look at Crossbow History

by John Geiger   |  July 20th, 2012 0

Detail from The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. Circa 1475.

CROSSBOW TIME LINE

6th Century B.C.
The earliest known handheld crossbows are unearthed in two tombs found in East China.

5th Century B.C.
The earliest reasonably reliable date for the crossbow in the Greek world.

500-300 B.C.
Sun Tzu’s influential book, The Art of War, refers to the use of crossbows.

341 B.C.
Earliest reliable record of the use of the crossbow in warfare at the Battle of Ma-ling in China, also famous for first use of the illusion of retreat-and-ambush to gain the upper hand in battle.

228 B.C.
Earliest factual evidence in the form of a bronze lock mechanism from the tomb of Yu Wang.

400 A.D.
Evidence of use as war instrument in the Mediterranean.

4th-7th Centuries A.D.
Reliefs on structures in Roman Gaul show crossbows used for hunting.

947
Belgian attack on Senlis near Paris driven off by crossbowmen.

986
Lock bows are used in the Battle of Hjorungsvag, Norway.

1000
The crossbow comes into wide use in pageantry, crossbow clubs and among royalty.

11th Century
The rail or tiller is grooved to hold a bolt.

1066
Crossbows are likely used in the Battle of Hastings, and may have been the weapon that killed English King Harold, a pivotal point in the battle with the Normans.

1139
Pope Innocent II condemns and forbids the use of the crossbow by Christians against Christians by saying they are “deathly and hateful to God and unfit to be used among Christians.”

1180
Mardi bin Ali al-Tarsusi of the Middle Eastern Ayyubid Dynasty records the different types of crossbow and the use of the belt and claw for spanning, also called cocking.

1199
English King Richard I The Lion Heart, who had found a loophole in the Pope’s decree against the crossbow, is killed by a crossbow in a battle at Chalus, France.

1st Half of 13th Century
Matthew Paris, English chronicler and monk, illustrates crossbows.

13th Century
The stirrup is introduced for cocking crossbows.

1277
200,000 bolts are ordered by the English for use in campaigns in Wales.

1346
English longbowmen defeat a force of 6,000 Genoese crossbowmen at the Battle of Crecy in Northern France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Mid-14th Century
Crossbows now can cast bolts approximately 200 yards.

1387
Book of the Hunt, a treatise on hunting by Gaston Phoebus, includes crossbow technique.

1435
Record of the cranequin, a rack-and-pinion device for cocking, is used by the English army in Rouen, France.

1480
In England, crossbow prices are set at no more than 3 shillings, 4 pence.

1486
Leonardo DaVinci designs a giant crossbow that would have been more than 80 feet across.

16th Century
Stonebows, two-stringed crossbows to shot stones or baked clay, become popular, especially for bird hunting.

16th Century
Record of first crossbows made specifically for target shooting.

1503
First of many laws in English restricting use and possession of crossbows.

Mid-16th Century
Highly decorated, heavy-draw-weight crossbows are used widely for deer and boar hunting in Europe.

18th Century
The Chinese develop a self-loading, repeating crossbow.

1901
Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, military author and engineer, shoots a 16th century crossbow 450 yards.

1956
The International Armbrust Union, now called the International Crossbow Shooting Union, is formed as the governing body for crossbow target competition.

1958
Alpine Crossbows, founded by Bernard Barnett, begins production in England’s West Midlands. The company, now known as Barnett Crossbows, later moved to the United States.

1969
A very young Bernard Horton appears on Welsh national television showing off his latest creation.

1969
Holless Wilbur Allen is granted a patent for the compound bow.

1973
Arkansas makes crossbows legal during bow seasons. Wyoming had always allowed crossbows during archery season.

1976
Ohio legalizes crossbow hunting in bow seasons.

1970-’80s
Crossbow hunting pioneers, like Ottie Snyder of Ohio, Bill Hilts Sr. of New York, Bill Troubridge of Ontario, Canada, and David Barnett of Florida, champion crossbow hunting in archery seasons.

1981
Barnett International opens a factory in Odessa, Florida.

1982
PSE introduces the popular Crossfire compound crossbow.

1984
Barnett International introduces the Thunderbolt compound crossbow.

1984
Proline introduces the ZX-7 compound bow.

1986
Tom Jennings, pioneering developer of the compound bow, releases the Jennings Devestator crossbow.

September 1998
Bobby L. Beeman takes the Safari Club world record non-typical Northwestern whitetail deer with a crossbow. It scores 281 4/8 inches.

2000
Barnett sells more than a million crossbows.

January 2010
PSE unveils the TAC-15 crossbow, which uses an AR-15 lower as its trigger group and stock.

November 2011
Jerry Bryant takes the world record crossbow deer, a 304 3/8-inch, 37-point Illinois buck called the Bryant Giant. Bryant was allowed to use a crossbow in Illinois thanks to a medically disabled-hunter permit.

November 2004
Brad Jerman takes the Safari Club International world record typical whitetail deer with a crossbow. It scores 206 1/8 inches and is also the Ohio state record for any weapon.

November 2004
The Bryant Buck is accepted as the second largest whitetail deer ever taken by a hunter, according to the Boone & Crockett Club.

2005
Seven U.S. states allow crossbow hunting archery seasons.

September 2005
William Brown takes the world record pronghorn antelope with a crossbow. It scores 77 2/8 inches Safari Club International.

April 2005
Amid support and criticism, archery’s Pope and Young Club rejects crossbows as a legitimate hunting bow.

May 2006
Gordon Scott takes the world record North American bison with a crossbow. It scores 65 7/8 inches SCI.

September 2006
Jake Carter takes the world record typical Rocky Mountain elk with a crossbow. It scores 362 7/8 inches SCI.

March 2007
State Rep. Cy Thao, with crossbow proponent Daniel James Hendricks as spokesman, introduces a bill in the Minnesota Legislature to allow crossbows in firearm, bear and turkey season. It passes, and also allows physically disabled hunters to use them.

October 2007
Ken Loya Jr. takes the world record black bear with a crossbow. The bear scores 20 13/16 inches SCI.

April 2008
Stan E. Christianson takes the world record Eastern wild turkey with a crossbow. The turkey scores 49 2/16 inches SCI.

June 2008
The Archery Trade Association adopts a policy that states, “Crossbows are viable shooting and hunting equipment.”

2009
Inventor James Kempf receives a patent on a Reverse Draw Technology crossbow.

August 2010
Then-chancellor Vladmir Putin uses a crossbow to shoot an endangered gray whale for research purposes.

March 2011
The Illinois General Assembly fails to pass a bill to allow crossbow hunting for people younger than 62 and those without a handicap.

August 2011
Nebraska, Indiana and parts of New York allow crossbows in archery seasons, bringing the number of pro-crossbow states to 18.

2011
Crossbows sales rise 70 to 80 percent in five years, according to the ATA.

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